On Thursday, Dec. 11, the Elon men’s basketball team traveled to Columbia, Missouri to tip-off against the University of Missouri Tigers. Coming into the game on a three game winning streak, the Phoenix was ready to battle its Southeastern Conference opponent.
The first half belonged to the Tigers who controlled the tempo for most of the game. Missouri was hot from beyond the arc, shooting 67 percent in the first half. The Tigers seemed to be scoring at will, unlike Elon which struggled to score for a majority of the game.
Shaky fundamentals plagued the Phoenix offense early on. Elon missed 10 layup attempts and had a field goal percentage of 26 percent in the first half. In addition to the lacking offense, Elon turnovers gave Missouri additional chances.
The Tigers jumped ahead late in the first half due to Elon fouls which put Missouri in the ‘double bonus.’ The free throws and three-point buckets helped increase the Missouri lead. The Phoenix trailed 46-27 going into halftime.
The trip to the locker room proved to be a wake-up call for the Phoenix offense. Elon started the half with key buckets from senior forward Ryan Winters and junior forward Tanner Samson. Within a few minutes the Phoenix cut the 19-point deficit down to 12.
The second half went back and forth, but Missouri fouls put Elon shooters at the foul line, cutting the lead as close to one point.In the final minutes of the second half, a drive by senior guard Kevin Blake led to an ‘And-1’ foul, putting him at the line to tie the game. Blake missed the free throw but the Tigers were called for traveling, giving the Phoenix a chance to take the lead. Elon was unable to capitalize and the Tigers won, 78-73.
Although coming up short in the end, the Phoenix outplayed the Tigers offensively in the second half. They shot 47 percent and outscored Missouri 46-32.
The Elon offense was led by sophomore guard Luke Eddy and senior guard Kevin Blake. Eddy had a season high 27 points, along with 3 rebounds. Blake contributed 14 points and had 6 rebounds.
It won’t be long before the Phoenix is tested again. Elon will travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Dec. 15 to challenge the Blue Devils of Duke University.